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Seminari "La ciència i els seus públics": Peter Heering (Universität Flensburg)

Dilluns, 10 de maig de 2010 en el Seminari del CEHIC, 16:00-18:00 hrs.
cehic 05/05/2010

Solar microscope image
Solar microscope image

Writing the history of scientific experimentation in a practical way: the replication method
Experimental practice has become an issue to historians of science only during the last three decades. Until then, most historians tended to write a history, which mainly focused on theory and where experiments just were materialized theoretical knowledge. Ian Hacking’s dictum ‘Experimentation has a life of its own’ can be seen as an indication of the growing awareness by historians of science that experiments are more than just an appendix to the development of theories.
In this context, some researchers at the University of Oldenburg in Germany started a research program that was intended to develop a more thorough understanding of scientific experimentation and scientific practices: labeled as the ‘replication method’, historical experiments were analyzed through repetition. This method can basically be described in a three-step-model: the reconstruction of the apparatus, the redoing of the experiments, and the contextualization of the experiences made.
In my presentation, I will give at first a brief theoretical description of the methodological approach. In the main part of the talk, I shall discuss several case studies from the history of physics, thus showing the potential of the method as well as raising some open questions. Finally, I will discuss some more general aspects of this approach to the history of science. 

Peter Heering studied physics and chemistry to become a secondary school teacher. Following his studies he did a PhD in the field of history of physics and its didactical use, which he completed in 1995. After being trained two years at a secondary school in Wilhelmshaven he became senior lecturer at the physics department at the University of Oldenburg (Germany) in 1996. Since 2009 he is professor of physics and physics didactics at the University of Flensburg.
His actual research in history of science focuses on the development of experimental practice in physics from the eighteenth to the twentieth century, in particular on entertainment and educational experiments as well as the development of precision measurements. In physics didactics, he is interested in the educational use of historical experiments as well as the implementation of historical aspects into the science curriculum.